Armenia’s previous governments were aware of retired General Manvel Grigorian’s corrupt activities but did not allow law-enforcement bodies to prosecute him, a lawmaker until recently affiliated with the former ruling Republican Party (HHK) claimed on Wednesday.
Artur Gevorgian also said that many other individuals in the country are even more corrupt that Grigorian, who was arrested on Saturday on charges of illegal arms possession and embezzlement.
“In terms of corrupt practices, Manvel Grigorian is probably not on the top 100 list [of corrupt persons] of this country,” he told reporters.
“They [law-enforcement bodies] now got a permission to catch him and they caught him,” he said. “They didn’t have permission before and so they didn’t catch him.”
Gevorgian is one of several parliamentarians who have defected from the HHK since the former ruling party’s leader, Serzh Sarkisian, resigned as Armenia’s prime minister on April 23 amid massive protests against his continued rule. Significantly, the 43-year-old former boxer is the son-in-law of Vladimir Gasparian, the former chief of the Armenian police.
Gasparian was fired two days after the Armenian parliament elected Nikol Pashinian as prime minister on May 8. He ran the national police service for seven years.
Independent and opposition-linked media outlets have long accused General Grigorian, who served as deputy defense minister from 2000-2008, of corruption, violent conduct and other abuses.
Grigorian strongly supported Sarkisian throughout the latter’s decade-long rule and was twice elected to the parliament on the HHK ticket. He has headed the Yerkrapah Union, an influential organization uniting thousands of veterans of the Karabakh war, for almost two decades.
The ex-general was arrested immediately after officers of the National Security Service (NSS) raided his expensive properties in and around Echmiadzin, a historic town about 20 kilometers west of Yerevan. They found there large quantities of not only weapons but also food and other supplies meant for Armenian army soldiers.
An NSS video of the search caused widespread shock and indignation in the country. The parliament swiftly agreed on Tuesday to lift Grigorian’s immunity from prosecution.
Investigators claimed on Wednesday to have confiscated more canned food which they believe was embezzled by Grigorian and hoarded in at least two other locations, including a house in Karabakh owned by him.